By the end of 2016, it was estimated that 500 teenage girls get infected with HIV/AIDS every week in Uganda, according to New Vision, the biggest news source in Uganda. On January 25th, several youth community organizers, including me, delivered a youth facilitation in a Kampala suburb called Kazo. The facilitation was intended to let the local people openly talk about reproductive and sexual health, with a specific focus on the cultural drivers behind the spread of HIV in the community.
We chose culture as our focus as it is the backbone of most, if not all, African social standards, and it greatly impacts the lives of African youth in nearly all walks of life every day. During the facilitation event, the local people involved in this event shared their opinions about how different tribal cultures in Uganda affect the infection of the HIV. In fact, Uganda has 56 tribes, and each of them has different cultural practices. The Sebeyi in the northern part of Uganda, for example, practices FGM(Female Genital Mutilation) that can affect the spread of HIV. We learned a lot from each other through sharing the stories we have heard and the experiences we have had in our own life.
In order to lead the youth who knew little or nothing about each other to open up and share their perspectives freely, we introduced a number of energizers, which engaged the participants and helped them know each other’s name, work together to brainstorm and build a project, or just to relax and have fun.